When knowledge is conceived as a commodity to be transmitted, the learning process can be simplified as a basic transfer of information from teacher to student. Traditionally, teachers, the supreme authority in the classroom, dispensed knowledge to the passive student. Within a transmission teaching paradigm, passivity, docility, obedience and compliance are the traits of a successful student.
The teacher’s role within the new learning paradigm is now more complicated than it was within the classical framework, when successful teaching was a matter of maintaining order in the classroom, planning and delivering high quality lessons. Now we know that knowledge can’t be transmitted, and students need to learn to exercise agency and initiative so that they can learn for themselves. In order to ensure that students have the opportunity to learn how to cooperate, collaborate, think creatively, critically and flexibly, and solve problems (all of which are requisite 21st century competencies), the teacher’s role has become more complex.
The new role of the teacher is to orchestrate a daily symphony of engaging, socially-satisfying experiences which ensures that a large group of individuals can assume personal responsibility to learn what is expected of them. Skillful and effective teachers foster curiosity, independence, collaboration, commitment, perseverance, and a joy for learning in their students. They cultivate habits of mind and attitudes in students that let them to take initiative to reach high standards. Teachers must now prepare children to participate in a rapidly-changing, globalized world where independence trumps obedience. Responsibility and purpose trump compliance. Empathy and collaboration trump competitiveness. Creativity and flexibility trump mastery. Flexibility and open-mindedness trump certainty.
The practitioners featured on this website personify the traits of distinguished teaching and leadership within the new learning paradigm. The Practitioner pages feature interviews of teachers about their practice, case studies of their work with students, photographs of their classrooms, and a rich supply of practical wisdom. Through their accounts you will gain a more intimate understanding of the Learning Cultures model.